Frontiers of Geographic Information Technology

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Think about major societal issues that we are asking students to understand in higher education, and grapple with and solve in the 21 st Century workplace.

Geographic Information Systems as a Career

What issues come to your mind? In my discussions with students, we typically generate a list that includes water quality and quantity, climate, human health, food security, biodiversity loss, sustainable agriculture and tourism, energy, natural hazards, political instability, transportation, education, population change, and economic viability.

But no matter what the final list includes, the point I then make is that all of the major issues of our time are related to geography. Not only do they all occur somewhere, but the issues have specific geographic patterns, linkages, relationships, and trends.

Research Frontiers in the US and China

In short, they can all be better understood through the spatial, or geographic, perspective. This perspective is important to teach not only in sciences related to earth and environmental studies, such as biology, geology, anthropology, and geography, but in history, language arts, mathematics, engineering, planning, criminal justice, medical sciences, business, and many others.

As the above issues grow in importance on a global scale, they also increasingly affect our everyday lives. To understand these patterns and trends requires the ability to map data within a geographic information system GIS environment. Far from being musty paper documents tucked away in a back corner of the classroom or workplace, maps are more relevant to education and society than ever.

Data can be mapped in 2D and 3D, and these maps now allow real-time data to be mapped, such as wildfires and other natural hazards, as well as posts to social media.

CyberGIS Center | AAG Symposium on Frontiers in Geospatial Data Science

These maps can be used in the field and in the laboratory; they are not static; they can be modified. They can be contributed to via crowdsourcing methods with an ordinary smartphone. They allow for quantitative and qualitative spatial analysis, such as for proximity studies, routing, map overlay, georeferencing, and geocoding.

They are used daily for more efficient decision making in an increasing number of professions in the 21 st Century. How does acid mine drainage in a mountain range affect water quality downstream?


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How will climate change affect global food production? Why are cities, ecoregions, earthquakes, businesses, and other objects located where they are?


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  • How are they affected by their proximity to nearby things, and by invisible global interconnections and networks? It forms the basis for knowing what types of data to collect, to analyze, and what decisions to make.

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    The maps do not ask the questions. After asking geographic questions, students acquire geographic resources and collect data, such as maps, satellite imagery, spreadsheets, and data. These data sets are increasingly from rich online libraries and from their own fieldwork. By analyzing these data, they discover relationships across time and space.

    AAG 12222 Symposium on Frontiers in Geospatial Data Science

    At AAG annual meeting, the Symposium on Frontiers in Geospatial Data Science will be held to provide an exciting and timely forum for sharing recent progress and future trends on geospatial data science and related fields. A suite of paper and panel sessions will address cutting-edge advances of geospatial data science with a particular focus placed on the following themes: foundations, principles, and theories of geospatial data science; data-driven geography; artificial intelligence and data-intensive approaches to geographic problem solving; geographic knowledge discovery enabled by cyberGIS; education advances and challenges; and spatial cyberinfrastructure.

    Lynn Usery, U. Progress in Human Geography , 41, Miller, H.

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    This coupling or integration has occurred for some time due to the limitations in commercially available systems. It has occurred in several areas including visualisation virtual reality , simulation pedestrian, urban modelling , data storage and management distributed or Internet GIS and decision support.

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    The chapters of the book, written by an international group of experts examine several of these discrete areas, focussing on the use of GIS and the technology it has been allied to. Senior graduate students, postdocs, and faculty are strongly encouraged to read at least several chapters, think about the possibilities, and discuss with each other ….

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